Tag Archives: politics

I love wearing masks, I hate wearing masks


Never have I had such a love-hate relationship with a thing as with masks.

On the one hand, I actually really, really like wearing one. For one thing, having a practical way to gain some protection against illness — that nobody is asking questions about since everybody is doing it (or at least they should be!) — is fantastic. For another, it stays bloody cold in my office and, silly as it sounds, I sometimes keep the mask on even when I’m all alone because it literally keeps my face warmer.

Truly, though, I have a bit of RBF and the mask just helps to cover that up. (I’ve heard that I intimidate students — those who don’t know me, at least — because I just “look scary”. I don’t see it.)

So, masks are great!

But they’re, unfortunately, not all that comfortable. I end up smelling my own breath a lot more than I’d like, which is … strange. And they get in the way of reading faces, which kiiinda screws up communication with people.

But more than anything, I hate just how divisive they’ve become, in light of everything in our country. They’re symbolic, somehow, of the chasm that’s opened up between the right and the left in this country, and I heckin’ hate it. Because the mask itself is an item utterly without content. It’s there to protect you and others around you from the spread of disease, that’s it, full stop.

But because everything in America is political now, wearing one or not wearing one can be a signal to everybody else about how you think about issues as wide-ranging as abortion, gun control, free speech, religion … the mask has become entrenched in all this other crap and it’s keeping us in this hellish liminal state, this limbo between “getting back to normal” and totally locked down.

And because masks turned all controversial, we’ve been stuck living these half-lives for months while much of the rest of the world is moving on. It’s like watching a rescue boat sail away as you’re going down with the Titanic.

Jesus, everything feels so depressing.

Anyway, you should vote in November.


Alternative Realities


I heard somewhere recently (it may have been Joe Rogan’s podcast, but who knows really) how strange people’s beliefs really are … and how little it matters.

Like, for example, you could be at the grocery store, and on the other side of the conveyor belt from you could be a person who believes that Mohammed flew to the moon on a winged horse. Or that God literally created the earth in seven days about six thousand years ago. Or that 9/11 was an inside job, or that we never walked on the moon. Or that evolution is a hoax.

People believe all kinds of crazy stuff.

Thing is, there was a time — and that time feels like it was not even so very long ago — where that kind of thing just didn’t matter. Sure, you’ve got people believing all sorts of madness, but when it came to the day-to-day reality they walked around in, we could all pretty much agree on what reality was and what mattered in the here-and-now.

Sure, we may have different beliefs on how life came to be on this planet, but right now, these groceries are here. They need bagging, and I’d like to pay for them. And the world shuffles on.

That feels, somehow, less true, now.

Because more and more out beliefs seem to glom onto one another and fall into us over here and them over there thinking. Wearing a mask, for example, seems to send the message that you just might be an ultra-liberal, Biden-voting socialist, and not wearing one seems to say you just might be a Trump supporter in a death cult. And that seems to contaminate even the simple act of checking out at the grocery store. (How can we carry on a relationship, no matter how brief, when one party seems concerned for the well-being of the other — as evidenced by mask-wearing — when the other thinks the first is foolish for even thinking about it?)

Less and less it feels like we even inhabit the same reality. It’s almost as if you can choose the reality that you live in, and the differences between those realities are vast and significant. And the differences in our realities seem to matter more and more.

Social media, and even media generally is no help. All we see are the extremes.

This is poisoning everything.

How the hell do we get back from this?


An Understated Genius


Because my wife apparently wanted to give me a stroke on Father’s Day, she gave me this:

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But because my wife is very smart and very funny and doesn’t actually want to give me a stroke, the inside of the book looks like this:

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275 pages of blank space. Which at first seems rather excessive, but upon further review, no, 275 pages of wasted space sounds just about right.

Where does she find this stuff?


SUPPORT THE CAUSE


Just picking my head out of the sand to relate a funny:

Many months ago — maybe more like a year ago — I followed a link to a survey asking “real Americans” for their input on Trump’s presidency. I filled it out, in detail. I seem to recall one of the questions reading:

As Commander-in-Chief, President Trump’s performance has been:

A. Amazing

B. Great

C. Good

D. Other

With lots more to that effect. Needless to say, I answered with a lot of “other” and had a good time venting a bit of my spleen, and I still do it every now and then.

What I didn’t consider was that filling out said survey apparently added me to a list of “real Americans” who might be interested in supporting our president’s cause, and more to the point, in supporting his cause with my dollars.

Nothing happened for a while, but in the past few months, I’ve gotten barraged with e-mails — literally sometimes six or seven a day — begging me for my contribution.

“Friend, is your name on the list?”

“Friend, will you count yourself among our ranks?”

“Friend, we need your support!”

I get a kick out of the fact that I’m assumed to be a “friend,” and I certainly get a kick out of the increasingly desperate tone of the letters. They’re “signed” from all members of the clan, from the big daddy himself to his non-security-clearanced in-law to the daughter he seems to have an unnatural attraction to. From the daughter he’d like us to forget he has to the one Trump son he cares about and even from the other Trump son. As if these people sat around typing out these pleas for cash (“just one dollar!”).

But what really makes me laugh is the big red banner at the bottom of each one:

Screenshot 2018-04-11 17.32.08

Deadline: 11:59 PM TONIGHT.

Every single e-mail for months (I open one every few weeks for giggles) has a deadline of 11:59 PM TONIGHT. As if at the stroke of midnight, like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin, I will lose my chance to support the orange one forever.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but I can’t help thinking that even if I did support this particular cause, the desperate language and the hyperbole would disincline me from giving them a dime. I mean, have some dignity. And even a two-year-old can figure out that when the “deadline” passes and a new deadline follows, and another one after that … that the deadline means nothing. If I were the cleverer sort, or if I had the time (or the extra fargoes to give in a day) I’m sure I could have a lot of fun responding to these e-mails and messing with some poor staffer about why my sizable donation won’t go through.

As it is, I’m just content to giggle to myself … while also feeling more than a little bit gross about the fact that my name is on a list of people who might potentially support this man.

But, you know, I hear things are going well for him lately — so I’m sure he’ll do just fine without my abuse.

Sigh. Never fill out a survey.


S***-men


Just wanna take a moment to point out how sick I am of “I wish he wouldn’t do/say that, BUT …”

News lately is lousy with this phrase. I guess it’s probably always been lousy with this phrase, but more so since You-Know-Who has sat the highest seat in the land. Every day he does something that needs apologizing for. And since he will never apologize for himself (you have to feel bad about a thing to apologize for it), every day his apologists swarm forth to deliver said apologies in his stead. Kind of.

Let’s be real, though. We all went to grade school. We all know that when you apologize with a “but” on the end, it’s not really an apology, you’re claiming justification. You’re admitting wrongdoing, but not really. “I wish he wouldn’t say s***holes, BUT (insert racist and/or patronizing remark here).” “I wish he wouldn’t say ‘grab ’em by the p****, BUT (insert sexist and/or derogatory remarks about an entire gender here).”

Sidenote: I’m fascinated and endlessly amused by the dances networks do to avoid repeating the foul language You-Know-Who uses. Listening to an interview when both parties keep saying, literally, s-holes, is so ludicrous it’s almost to be laughed at. “blank”holes is pretty good, too. Or you could go the CNN route, throw caution to the wind, and just use the actual language in question in front of millions of viewers round-the-clock. Seriously — what’s the right play? Censor the language of the highest office in the land or report on it honestly and be judged vulgar?

Then they proceed to evangelize about why, deep down, he’s really right to say what he’s saying, even if he isn’t saying it in “the nicest way”.

And, I mean, I get it. Everybody misspeaks. Thank goodness, after all, I don’t have people parsing my language every day. But, for goodness’s sake. There’s not a job in this country that you can keep when you’re so uncouth, so consistently uninformed, so routinely unaware of social graces.

Except, apparently, president. Apparently the president can say whatever he wants, and still be defended to the death by suit- and skirt-wearing sycophants.

And these are only the things we hear about!

Seems like the argument today is that he didn’t say “s***hole countries,” he said “s***house countries.” Because that’s so much better.

The problem isn’t even the language (though the language is its own problem). The problem is the thinking — or the lack of thinking — behind the language. Write off an entire country, an entire group of people, as a hole in the ground fit only for excrement? Sure, that seems reasonable.

Is he the Pied Piper? Is he a voodoo priest? How does he manage to convince so many otherwise intelligent people to make the stupidest arguments on his behalf? Why do so many otherwise respectable individuals keep destroying their credibility coming to his defense?

I don’t know if I will ever understand this.


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